The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAACH) celebrated the life and legacy of Malcolm X last Wednesday, January 31, 2018.  The premiere screening of the Smithsonian Channel’s “Lost Tapes: Malcolm X” hosted by Comcast, The Smithsonian Channel, and NMAACH was an honorable prelude to Black History Month.

During the reception, people conversed with and took pictures alongside Malcolm X’s daughters Ilyasah, Malaak, and Qubilah Shabazz. Malcolm’s third daughter, Ilyasah emphasized that the best way to contribute to her father’s legacy is through the preservation of African American History.

“One of the best ways we can contribute to my father’s legacy as African Americans are honoring our ancestors and understanding our culture. We must preserve and correct the inaccuracies of our history,” says Shabazz.
Inside the Oprah Winfrey Theater, representatives from Comcast, journalists, media correspondents, spectators, and the film’s producers sat in anticipation of the debut. Some of the guests included Executive Producer and Emmy and Peabody Award winner Tom Jennings, Executive Producer John Cavanagh, and WUSA9 reporter, Bruce Johnson. 
“This is different than a lot of other documentaries just in general, in that there is no narration and no interviews. The story is told with speeches from Malcolm, press conferences, and media reports. The first thing people will take away is they are going to get to hear a lot more of what Malcolm had to say. His beliefs were his life,” says Jennings.
The first six rows of tan leather seats had reserved on them, sectioned off for the three daughters and their family and friends.
Before the film Ilyasah Shabazz, the author of Growing Up XMalcolm Little, and most recently Betty Before X spoke briefly about her article she wrote for the New York Times in 2015 “What Would Malcolm X Think?” Where she wrote, “The key to creating change is a critical mass of ready and angry people whose passion doesn’t ebb and flow with the news cycle.”
The lights dimmed. As the film played, there were moments of laughter, gasps, and silent sadness. Across the room, people shook their heads nodding in affirmation of Malcolm’s words. Jennings was successful in achieving his goal.
“We hoped to capture this corner of American history in the early 1960s when the Nation of Islam introduced Malcolm X as the number two person and he is rising to prominence and notoriety. Malcolm addresses that the promises made to every American have not been kept, people were fed up and that’s what he was expressing we’re fed up and it’s time to change the narrative,” says Jennings.
The audience is privy to the life of Malcolm X, through the eyes of Malcolm X and other prominent Black leaders. Some of these leaders include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) and Ossie Davis. His journey in the Civil Rights movement is shown as a progression from the way he thinks, and the combination of him learning and simultaneously teaching.
The absence of a narrator from the film alleviates the distraction of what some might perceive as an embedded opinion, guiding the thoughts of the viewers. Instead, Malcolm’s voice is the consistent backdrop for communicating and defending his own opinions and ideas.
“In this film, you will see speeches that run for three minutes long. It just plays, you will get the sense of who he was as a speaker and public figure,” says Jennings
“By any means necessary,” is the extent to which Malcolm X is associated with. Executive producer John Cavanagh prior to his work on this film only had the knowledge of what he learned about Malcolm X in high school. “This film provided me with a new outlook and added more to the conversation,” says Cavanagh.
In many schools, the history of Malcolm is taught in relation to Martin Luther King Jr. MLK being non-violent and Malcolm X being violent. The parallel is emphasized in the film. However, the dialogue goes beyond the portrayal which is consistently misrepresented.
After the film, a panel discussion was held between Tom Jennings and the museum curator of NMAAHC Damion Thomas moderated by Bruce Johnson. Bruce Johnson asked Jennings “Was it hard to produce this film being a white man?” 
“Being a white man served as a tremendous disadvantage because I knew I had the responsibility to get it right,” says Jennings.
A man from the audience during the comments section mentioned that he felt the film did not provide enough context to the historical events taking place in correlation with what Malcolm X was doing.
However, any audience member whether they have an extensive knowledge of Malcolm X or no prior knowledge will be able to take something away from this film. They will have the opportunity to be enlightened and gain an appreciation for Malcolm X as a man and revolutionary. “In honoring him [Malcolm], we honor the best in ourselves,” Ossie Davis. 
The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X will premiere on the Smithsonian Channel February 26, 2018, at 8 PM

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